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UEFA Champions League
22 November 2012
• Stade Constant Vanden Stock, Bruxelles (Brussel)
Referee: D. Skomina
• Attendance: 19803
T. De Sutter 78'
S. El Shaarawy 47'
P. Mexès 71'
Alexandre Pato 90'+
Anderlecht need to better Zenit's result in their final match away at Malaga if they are to qualify for the Europa League. Milan go into their final match against Zenit knowing that they have already secured second spot. That's all from me, Max Bentley, on what has turned out to be a thrilling 3-1 victory for Milan over Anderlecht where we could potentially have seen the goal of the tournament from Philippe Mexes. Good night!
Two slack pieces of defending have cost Anderlecht dear today. They did not look out of their depth against a very abject Milan in the first half but a lack of concentration allowed El Shaarawy to open the scoring and the Belgian side were made to chase the game from then on.
FULL TIME. ANDERLECHT 1 - 3 MILAN. The Rossoneri seal their progress to the knockout stages courtesy of second half goals from El Shaarawy, a sublime acrobatic effort from Philippe Mexes and Alexandre Pato. Anderlecht did threaten to cause an upset when Tom De Sutter came off the bench to score but ultimately, Bram Nuytinck's red card proved costly. Fantastic second half from the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
90' + 1'
Assist Stephan El Shaarawy
90' + 1'
Goal Alexandre Pato
MILAN SEAL THE THREE POINTS! With Anderlecht throwing men forward, Nigel De Jong plays a perfectly-weighted pass over the defence for El Shaarawy to run on to. The in-form striker bears down on goal and spotting the run of Pato he coolly squares the ball, allowing the Brazilian to convert from a few yards out. Milan are through to the knockout stages.
Anderlecht win a corner and with numbers to aim for in the box, the set-piece is comfortably claimed by Abbiati. Wasteful from the Belgian champions.
Deschacht looks to play the ball long but no white shirt anticipates De Sutter's knockdown and Abbiati claims. De Sutter has caused the Rossoneri defence real problems since coming on.
Milan nearly seal the points late on when De Sciglio whips in a sublime cross from the right but El Shaarawy cannot quite make contact and the ball runs out for a throw.
Yellow Card Christian Abbiati
WHAT A CHANCE FOR ANDERLECHT! Olivier Deschacht plays a wonderful one-two with Sacha Kljestan and surges into the box one-on-one with Abbiati but opts for power instead of placement and lashes his effort high over the crossbar. A golden opportunity for the Belgian left-back.
De Sutter looks to feed the ball into Fernando with a neat flick on the edge of the box but the ball is excellently cut out by Zapata. The Colombian defender came on a moment ago to replace Mexes who picked up a knock.
Assist Oleksandr Iakovenko
Goal Tom de Sutter
ANDERLECHT PULL ONE BACK! And it's the substitute De Sutter who has scored it. Anderlecht launch the ball into the Milan box and Kouyate rises highest to nod the ball down for Yakovenko who flicks the ball on for De Sutter who has the easy task of poking the ball through the legs of Abbiati from close range. Game on!
Tom De Sutter nearly makes an instant impact when he plays in Gillet on the right side of the box but Mexes produces a crucial interception to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Tom de Sutter
Milan nearly extend their lead when El Shaarawy floats a cross to the back post for Yepes but the Colombian inexplicably tries to volley the effort and fails to make contact. It should have been an easy header.
Assist Riccardo Montolivo
Goal Philippe Mexes
WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE GOAL FROM MEXES! Riccardo Montolivo floats a cross to the edge of the penalty box where Philippe Mexes chests the ball down with his back to goal before executing an audacious overhead kick which loops over the helpless Proto and into the far corner. Not a bad way to score your first goal for your club, what a fantastic piece of individual brilliance from the Frenchman.
Red Card Bram Nuytinck
Could that signal the end of Anderlecht's Champions League campaign? Milan launch a counter attack with Pato running at Nuytinck. He has El Shaarawy in support but opts to cut inside and is brought down by the Netherlands defender. Damir Skovina adjudges that it was a goalscoring opportunity and brandishes the red card. Anderlecht down to ten men.
Allegri responds by making an attacking change of his own with Alexandre Pato coming on to replace Bojan. The Brazilian striker scored against Malaga in Milan's last Champions League outing.
Yellow Card Guillaume Gillet
And John van der Brom does make a change, bringing on the Ukrainian Olexandr Yakovenko for the disappointing Massimo Bruno.
Guillaume Gillet receives a caution for an elbow on Antonio Nocerino.
Antonio Nocerino delivers a brilliant freekick into the box which is met with a diving header from Mario Yepes, forcing Silvio Proto into a wonderful reflex save. However, the linesman's flag had gone up on the far side.
There is a stoppage in play as Bojan receives treatment after a foul from Kouyate. The young Spaniard should be able to continue.
Massimo Bruno lays the ball off to Dennis Praet on the edge of the box but the Belgian's strike flies comfortably into the gloves of Abbiati. Perhaps the likes of Kano or Yakovenko could make the difference from the bench.
Gillet plays an early cross into the box for Massimo Bruno but Philippe Mexes reads the danger excellently and outmuscles the youngster. Experienced defending from the Frenchman.
This game has fired into life after that El Shaarawy strike with Anderlecht aware that their Champions League future is on the line. They look to attack down the flanks but Constant and De Sciglio once again stand strong. John van der Brom will be demanding more from Massimo Bruno and Dennis Praet.
Dennis Praet is fortunate to see his pass ricochet back to him inside the Milan box but he hurries his shot which flies into the side netting.
On second viewing, it did look like Jovanovic was tripped in the box. Let-off for Milan.
Anderlecht are screaming for a penalty when Jovanovic and Mbokani go down under challenges from Yepes and Constant but the Slovenian referee waves play on.
Milan are finding acres of space in the Anderlecht half and Bojan feeds Boateng down the right-hand side but his cross for El Shaarawy in the middle is too close to Proto who smothers the danger.
IT WAS NEARLY TWO! Bojan picks out El Shaarawy with a wonderful cross-field pass and the striker jinks inside Gillet but delays his strike and is closed down by Nuytinck. He should have got his strike away there. Great start to the second half for Milan.
Yellow Card Lucas Biglia
Lucas Biglia receives Anderlecht's first booking after hauling down Riccardo Montolivo.
Assist Mattia De Sciglio
Goal Stephan El Shaarawy
GOOAL EL SHAARAWY! You just cannot give this boy that amount of space. Mattia De Sciglio whips in a cross to the back post where the 20-year-old is allowed to take the ball down and effortlessly half-volley the ball into the top right-hand corner. Wonderful composure but where was the marking? 1-0 Milan!
John van der Brom will be happy with his side's performance so far; they have looked solid in defence but with their lack of creativity in midfield, you can understand why they have only scored one goal in the competition so far. Will they live to rue that miss from Jovanovic?
Robinho made a telling impact with an assist when he came off the bench against Napoli at the weekend. With Kevin Prince Boateng not enjoying the best of halves, could the Brazilian fire Massimiliano Allegri's side into life?
What are your thoughts on that goalless first half? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: ANDERLECHT 0 - 0 MILAN. A game of few chances at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium where Anderlecht have slightly edged this opening period. Both sides have lacked invention in the final third, although the home side should have taken the lead through ex-Liverpool winger Milan Jovanovic. Milan are yet to test Silvio Proto but they do have good options on the bench. Let's hope for a better second half!
Milan have a good opportunity to get the ball in the box from a freekick but Riccardo Montolivo wastefully hits the ball out of play. That more or less sums up the Rossoneri's first-half performance.
El Shaarawy plays the ball into Bojan in the box and the Spaniard looks to dance around two Anderlecht defenders but is outmuscled and the chance breaks down. Can Milan test Proto before the interval?
CLOSE FOR MILAN! De Sciglio looks to play a long ball over the top for El Shaarawy and Cheikhou Kouyate inexplicably decides to let the ball bounce but is rescued by his goalkeeper who is off his line quickly to foil the danger.
Yellow Card Antonio Nocerino
First yellow card of the match for Antonio Nocerino who is booked for preventing a quick freekick.
El Shaarawy whips in a dangerous corner looking for Mario Yepes but Mbokani shows his defensive duties by rising highest to head clear.
Lucas Biglia plays a wonderful ball over the top for Milan Jovanovic but the Serbian cannot find a white shirt in the middle and a promising move breaks down. Both sides lacking that creative spark at the moment.
Antonio Nocerino looks to play an outside-of-the-foot pass throught to El Shaarawy but overhits his effort. Signs of frustration are creeping into the young Milan forward; he has not received much service in these opening 37 minutes.
AND THE DEADLOCK NEARLY WAS BROKEN! Lucas Biglia delivers a fantastic cross into the box which is flicked on to the backpost where Mbokani looks set to tap in from close range, but he is denied by a wonderful last-ditch tackle from De Sciglio.
All the play seems to be concentrated in the middle of the pitch at the moment with neither side able to fashion an opening on goal. Can the deadlock be broken before the break?
Bojan produces a clever piece of skill to jink past his marker before sliding a pass into the path of Antonio Nocerino, but the linesman's flag is raised. Anderlecht's backline has been brilliantly organised in this opening half hour.
Milan are struggling to penetrate through this Anderlecht defence and Boateng once again gives the ball away sloppily. It hasn't been one of his better days so far.
Guillame Gillet bombs forward from right-back and his searching cross is aimed for Milan Jovanovic, but Mattia De Sciglio rises highest to nod the ball to safety. This is a good spell for the Belgian side.
Stats indicate that Anderlecht have enjoyed 59% of the possession but neither side have really tested either goalkeeper so far. Biglia swings in a corner from the left but Abbiatti punches the ball clear.
Bojan nearly plays in El Shaarawy after a mazy run but the Spaniard's pass is excellently cut out by Nuytinck. That was a crucial interception.
Dieudonne Mbokani, sporting a facemask this evening, is proving a real handful for Philippe Mexes and Mario Yepes so far. He holds off the French defender but Jovanovic cannot take advantage of the bounce allowing De Sciglio to clear his lines.
Anderlecht are enjoying the lion's share of possession at the moment and Mbokani's cheeky backheel nearly plays in Jovanovic but Montolivo is alert to the danger and shields the ball to safety.
Kevin Constant wins possession just inside the Anderlecht half and plays an early ball over the top for Boateng but it runs just too far for the Ghanaian midfielder.
Anderlecht are starting to settle into this game now after a nervy opening five minutes. Dennis Praet finds space on the edge of the box but drags his shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR ANDERLECHT! Dieudonne Mbokani splits the Milan defence with a smart through ball and Milan Jovanovic only has Abbiati to beat but contrives to strike straight at the keeper's legs.
A few crunching tackles in the middle of the park with Nigel De Jong and Lucas Biglia sizing each other up early on. That should be a good contest.
Anderlecht pass the ball around neatly and Lucas Biglia looks to get in behind the Milan defence but Olivier Deschacht's return pass is slightly overhit. That's the best we have seen from the Belgian champions so far.
Anderlecht win their first corner of the game but Lucas Biglia's delivery fails to beat Nigel De Jong on the front post and Milan clear the danger.
Riccardo Montolivo finds Mattia De Sciglio with a superb cross-field ball but the young Italian wing-back cannot pick out El Shaarawy in the middle and his cross runs out wastefully for a goalkick.
Anderlecht seem a little rattled after a bright Milan start. They enjoy a brief spell of possession but they are yet to attack the opposition penalty area.
Milan have made a very bright start to this match and they attack down the left once again but El Shaarawy's touch lets him down and a good chance goes begging.
Stephan El Shaarawy plays a brilliant diagonal pass to Kevin Prince Boateng who advances towards goal, but the linesman adjudges that the Ghanaian midfielder strayed just offside.
Early chance for Milan with Antonio Nocerino sending Bojan free down the left wing. The Spaniard accelerates past Bram Nuytinck but cannot pick out a red and black shirt in the box and Silvio Proto collects.
For those of you interested, tonight's referee is Damir Skovina of Slovenia, who officiated three matches in Euro 2012.
The teams emerge from the tunnels and the Champions League anthem echoes around the stadium. Captains Lucas Biglia and Christian Abbiati exchange handshakes in the centre circle. Can Milan seal their progress to the knockout stages for the tenth consecutive time? Kickoff awaits...
AC Milan have kept a clean sheet on their last five visits to Belgium - their only defeat on Belgian soil arriving in the 1975-76 Uefa Cup via a 2-0 loss to Club Brugge.
Anderlecht have won seven of their 15 home fixtures against Serie A clubs, but their last victory came 12 years ago when Tomasz Radzinski's goal was enough to see off Lazio 1-0.
Milan make one change from the side which fought back against Napoli with Mario Yepes replacing Francesco Acerbi. Stephan El Shaarawy, who already has eleven goals in all competitions, starts alongside Bojan.
Unsurprisingly, John van der Brom names an unchanged side for the fourth successive match with Dieudonne Mbokani leading the line. The Democratic Republic of Congo striker has scored the Belgian side's only goal so far in this competition - in the 1-0 victory over Zenit.
MILAN (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Mexes, Yepes, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino; Boateng; Bojan, El Shaarawy. Subs: Amelia, Zapata, Flamini, Emanuelson, Robinho, Pato, Pazzini.
ANDERLECHT (4-2-3-1): Proto; Gillet, Kouyate, Nuytinck, Deschacht; Kljestan, Biglia; Bruno, Praet, Jovanovic; Mbokani. Subs: Kaminski, Safari, Wasilewski, Canesin, Kanu, Yakovenko, De Sutter.
Here are tonight's lineups...
With Malaga sealing top spot in Group C, both Anderlecht and Milan are aware that tonight's match could prove decisive in the race for the knockout stages. There was nothing to separate the sides when they fought out a 0-0 stalemate at the Giuseppe Meazza back in September but both sides have enjoyed an upturn in form since then. Anderlecht come into the game on the back of a five-match winning streak - a run that includes a 1-0 victory over Zenit on matchday four and a 6-1 hammering of Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League. The Rossoneri have shown signs of resurgence in recent weeks and they secured a respectable draw away at Napoli at the weekend, having been two goals down. From the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, my name is Max Bentley and I will be keeping you up-to-date with all the action between Anderlecht and Milan. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and predictions on the game via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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